Catholic Relief Services commits $1.5 million to Mexico and Caribbean Flood Response

Catholic Relief Services commits $1.5 million to Mexico and Caribbean Flood Response


Guatemala City, Guatemala–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–November 2, 2007–Catholic Relief Services (CRS) today announced an initial commitment of $1.5 million toward emergency relief and recovery assistance for thousands of people affected by a series of storms that caused the worst flooding in Mexico’s history and tore through the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba.

A week of heavy rains has flooded 80 percent of the Mexican Gulf Coast state of Tabasco, prompting Mexican President Felipe Calderon to declare it the “worst natural disaster in the history of the country.”

About half of the 2 million people in Tabasco have been affected. Thousands are being evacuated to neighboring states while some 300,000 people remain trapped in their homes by the flooding.

“This is the worst disaster in Mexico’s recent history. The rains are expected to continue so we think it will only get worse,” said Erica Dahl-Bredine, CRS Mexico Country Representative. “Already we’ve seen that people are coming together in solidarity and support, but we don’t know a whole lot right now because there are so many people still trapped and waiting to be rescued. CRS will be working through the national Church network to provide food and water to those people and those who have been evacuated.”

CRS staff members and local Church partners Caritas Mexicana and Caritas Tabasco are on their way to Tabasco to determine the scope of the devastation and the level of need. But with some 85 towns underwater, including much of state capital of Villahermosa, and many roads impassable, assessment is difficult.

CRS, which is working closely with Caritas Mexicana and Caritas Tabasco, has pledged $1 million to provide food, water, blankets and other basic emergency supplies to thousands of affected families.

Long-term recovery efforts will likely include agricultural rehabilitation — about 90 percent of Tabasco’s crops were inundated by the floods — and housing construction and repair.

CRS Relief in Haiti, Cuba, and the Dominican Republic

CRS has committed an additional $500,000 to support relief efforts already underway by CRS staff and partners in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, where Tropical Storm Noel, the deadliest storm to hit the region since Jeanne in 2004, lashed the Caribbean earlier this week.

Roughly 45,000 Haitians, Dominicans and Cubans were evacuated and the storm destroyed some 15,000 homes before moving on to the Bahamas.

CRS is already mobilizing emergency supplies, including water purification and collection materials, plastic sheeting and mosquito nets for some 1,000 families in the Dominican Republic. The country was the hardest hit, with 56 people dead and about 28,000 evacuated.

In Haiti which was already reeling from rains earlier this month that killed 35 people, CRS is providing hygiene and kitchen kits to 225 families in Oranger, just north of the capital city Port-au-Prince. In addition, CRS Haiti plans to provide emergency food rations to 150 people living in a City Hall shelter in Leogane and to 252 people in a shelter in Jacmel.

In Cuba, where flooding damaged crops and homes in the eastern provinces of Las Tunas and Holguin, CRS Cuba, working with Caritas Cubana, will provide bedding, food and home repairs to some 150 families.

CRS emergency teams in the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba continue to carry out assessments of remote communities — in some cases by boat. Many roads in the Dominican Republic, for example, are still impassible and communication infrastructure has been severely damaged.

Based on assessments that come in, emergency teams will respond with support to meet the areas of greatest need.

“Of particular and immediate concern is the potential for an outbreak of dengue fever in the Dominican Republic, which already has high rates of the virus. Mosquito nets and water purification and collection material are critical right now,” said Holly Inurreta, Regional Technical Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean.

Long-term needs will likely include housing repair and cleanup as well as rehabilitation of water and sanitation systems.

CRS has been supporting human development and humanitarian efforts in Mexico since the 1960’s. In recent years, the agency has supported rural development and human rights projects in Chiapas and provided emergency assistance after disasters, such as the 1985 earthquake in Mexico City.

In the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba, CRS has worked for more than five decades providing relief during some of the most devastating disasters. In response to floods earlier this month in Haiti, the agency is focusing immediate relief in the South Department near Les Cayes and in small isolated communities north of Port-au-Prince that were severely affected.

Interviews are available with CRS staff on the ground:

In Mexico: Erica Dahl-Bredine, CRS Mexico Country Representative, at 55-54-76-66-80

If calling from the U.S. dial 011-52-1-5554766680

In the Dominican Republic: Holly Inurreta, Regional Technical Advisor for Latin America and the Caribbean, at (809) 350-3179

In Haiti: Greg Elder, CRS Haiti, at (509) 510-4586

At CRS World Headquarters: Brian Goonan, CRS Cuba Country Representative, in Baltimore (443)326-5933/Cell, (410) 951-7497/Office

How to Help:

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Write a check:

Catholic Relief Services

P.O. Box 17090

Baltimore, Maryland 21203-7090

Memo portion of check: LACRO Severe Weather Fund

Catholic Relief Services is the international humanitarian organization of the U.S. Catholic Church, and provides support and relief in over 100 countries and territories on the basis of need, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity or nationality.

Catholic Relief Services commits $1.5 million to Mexico and Caribbean Flood Response